Israel to examine bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

It was previously reported that the bullet that killed Shireen Abu Akleh would be given to US experts for investigation.

 Palestinians bid farewell to Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a live fire exchange between Palestinians and IDF in Jenin, in Ramallah in the West Bank May 12, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinians bid farewell to Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during a live fire exchange between Palestinians and IDF in Jenin, in Ramallah in the West Bank May 12, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Israel will be able to examine the bullet that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to determine if the shooter was an IDF soldier or a Palestinian gunman, military spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav told Army Radio on Sunday.

He spoke just one day after Palestinian Authority Attorney-General Akram Khatib told the media that the bullet had been handed over to a US team of experts who had come to the region specifically for this purpose.

Kochav, however, said that “the examination won’t be an American one; the examination will be an Israeli one with an American presence.”

Mistrust in joint investigation

Abu Akleh, 51, an east Jerusalem resident who held US citizenship, was killed on May 11 while covering an IDF raid on a refugee camp in Jenin. The PA has blamed the IDF for her death. For reasons of mistrust, it had not wanted to transfer the bullet to Israel so that it could perform ballistic tests to see if the bullet matches one of the rifles used by soldiers at the scene.

On Saturday, less than two weeks before US President Joe Biden is due to arrive in Israel, the authority relented and agreed to give it to a US team.

 Shireen Abu Akleh (credit: AL JAZEERA) Shireen Abu Akleh (credit: AL JAZEERA)

Deputy Public Interior Minister Yoav Segalovitz (Yesh Atid) told Army Radio that it could take several days to conduct the necessary tests. He said that Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who heads his party, had been involved in securing an agreement to transfer the bullet.

“The matter was concluded only last night,” he said.

“the examination won’t be an American one, the examination will be an Israeli one with an American presence.”

Military spokesman Brigadier-General Ran Kochav

Who fired the bullet?

The IDF had said Abu Akleh was killed during an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen and that it was not possible to conclusively determine which of the two forces was responsible for her death without the bullet.

“We are waiting for the [test] results,” Kochav said on Sunday. If they show “we killed her, then we will take responsibility.” If the bullet “can be matched then it will be matched,” he said. “If we can’t make a determination then there won’t be a determination. If it can be determined that she was killed by armed Palestinians, then the Palestinians will be responsible.”

In any scenario, Kochav said, Israel regrets Abu Akleh’s death.

In an interview with Voice of Palestine radio on Sunday, Khatib insisted that Israel would not be conducting ballistic tests on the bullet, explaining that the examination would take place at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

“We got guarantees from the American coordinator that the examination will be conducted by them and that the Israeli side will not take part,” Khatib told the station, adding that he expected the bullet to be returned on Sunday.

“We don’t have anything new at this time,” an embassy spokesperson said.

An embassy spokesperson said: "We don't have anything new at this time.”

"We got guarantees from the American coordinator that the examination will be conducted by them and that the Israeli side will not take part.”

Palestinian Authority Attorney-General Akram Khatib

Reuters contributed to this report.